For the month of June, I get (another) cat-sitting gig, this time in Echo Park. I’ve never been to this side of town, so I’m excited to see what it’s like. The people I’m cat-sitting for live in this adorable old apartment building on this adorable street lined with shops, and they own an adorable cat. (Seriously, he’s the cutest fucking cat I’ve ever known.)
Conveniently, the building has an enclosed outside back area. All brick with a little sitting area off to the side, and warm lights string across the top, so there’s always a nice, soft glow at night. It’s here that I can work on my signs. So perfect.
Gary (that’s the cat) is such a cliche. Scared. I don’t see him for the first three days I’m there. Literally, I might see his tail as he runs under the bed or the couch, but as soon as he sees me, he’s gone. That’s fine by me, Gary. You do you.
On the shop-lined street, right next to the apartment building, in fact, is a little shop called Cookbook. It’s absolutely phenomenal. It becomes my routine to walk down every morning and buy a delicious cup of their wonderful coffee. I marvel at everything else in this tiny little store. So tiny, but packed with delicious treats. Some groceries, but also a fridge full of soups, pot pies, cheeses and meats. And a display case of these ridiculously good-looking sandwiches, salads and other small goodies. I always just look at these, my mouth watering.
On day three, Gary comes out of hiding. I’m sitting at the little table in the kitchen, on my laptop, when he rubs up against my leg. We’ve made contact, folks. From here on out, Gary and I are friends. Not just friends; he’s my best bud. He’s so tiny and cuddly, I can’t even handle it. I look forward to coming home from work and laying on the couch with him. He’s the best.
It’s during my stay here that I start my nightly phone conversations with Stephen.
I guess I should back up…
Basically, we hit it off in Mexico. I was sure it was nothing. Convinced myself that it was just this fun trip in Mexico. Nothing more. I even told him so, on our last night together, as we floated around in the pool under the moonlight (it’s cheesy, but true). I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, saying how this can’t really be anything. I don’t even know what he thought. Maybe, “Why is she even saying this in the first place?” (I know. I always says too much.) But when we finally part ways, it’s kind of just like, alright, see ya later (awkward hug).
But I realize, as soon as he’s gone, I can’t stop thinking about him, and how much fun I had with him, and how much we connected. Anna Rose, in true Anna Rose fashion, tells me at the airport that we’re going to get married. Again, I roll my eyes are her. No, it was nothing. “Did he get your number?” Nope!
I say this like I’m proud of myself for it. Like, yes, this was just a fun Mexico thing that will turn into nothing.
But I know. I know he has my info. Because there was an email thread during the wedding because someone lost something. And then I, of course, lost my phone, so I had sent out an email as well. (Yes, I lost my phone in Mexico, and yes, it is still in Mexico.)
I get back to Topanga, and immediately tell Tara about this guy I met. It’s like the more time that goes by the more I realize I might actually like him. When I go back into my bungalow and open my laptop, there it is. An email from him.
And so begins our email exchange (for quite a while, too, since, you know, I lost my phone in Mexico). To sum it up, we want to see if this really is something. Maybe it’s not, but we’d both like to find out, so Stephen books a flight to LA for the following month.
I’m terrified and excited and can’t believe this is actually happening.
So now I’m in Echo Park, and we’ve been texting a lot, but not talking on the phone. One night, after dinner (and a few glasses of wine), I decide to call him. I am so nervous about this, but as soon as he answers the phone, I know it’s OK. It’s so easy with him. His voice is calming and soothing and there’s never any awkwardness between us. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that after this first phone call, we have talked on the phone every night since (unless we were together, of course).
Stephen’s trip is nothing short of magical. It surpasses anything I could have imagined, and I know he feels the same way. Most of our time is spent in Santa Monica, but we do spend one night in Echo Park. We have lunch on the sidewalk outside of Cookbook. We split two sandwiches. They are the best sandwiches we’ve ever had. He meets Gary, who completely lives up to his reputation as the coolest cat on the planet. He even warms up to Stephen pretty quickly, curling up on his lap. We go down to the lake and spread out a blanket to eat, drink wine, and play cards. We end the night sitting on the brick patio, under the warm light of the string lights and cool night air.
So yea, Echo Park is a pretty cool place.